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A reporter on the run

The Sick Days: Part 20 - Into the Frying Pan When I was a young reporter, there were no “self-help” books about how to manage your workload, ask for support from your employer, or even disclose an illness. By Shelley Page I’d like to torque my personal narrative and claim that I left my ‘dream job’ because I’d had an epiphany: journalism would never be a cure for lupus. Except, I wasn’t that clever. These days, there are many books written for the chronically ill about how to scale back your dreams and still find career success: Despite Lupus, written by a former NBC producer who quit her job to control the constant flares of her illness, which eventually attacked her kidneys, arguably the most serious manifestation of lupus (a stage I didn’t yet have to worry about). The writer encouraged readers to work smart, or in bite-sized chunks, and sometimes not at all. Fabulupus (yes, that’s really the title), is filled with similar advice. When I was a ...

Playing with the boys

The Sick Days: Part 13 How one young reporter ended up shouting at the Queen Mother from the sidelines of a horse race while dodging the pig sty theatrics of One Yonge  By Shelley Page When I joined the Star’s downtown general assignment pool, all the reporters’ desks had been shoved into rows as they renovated the newsroom. It reminded me of a Grade 8 class at an all-boys school. Loud-talking guys in wrinkled dress shirts, loosened ties, sitting jowl-to-cheek, ego-to-ego, as they pounded out their stories on 1970s computers, in late stages of decay. I was seated, temporarily, beside a bulldog of two-way man (meaning he both wrote and took photographs), who immediately showed me the collection of girlie photos he’d amassed on the job. He’d somehow convinced numerous women to pose for photos with their shirts off, and kept a file in his desk, mixed in with pictures of his children (clothed). He showed me this collection, I guess, to see how I’d react. ...

The Sick Days: Part 7

Dressing like a lady and other lessons for a cub reporter Looking back, an essential lesson for female journalism students should have been how to deal with sexist notions that our almost entirely male professors held, and that existed in the newsrooms we would soon walk into By Shelley Page In journalism school, we learned how to shape a story into an inverted pyramid, ask open-ended questions and be fair-minded. What if we wanted to get a big important man to talk and we were female? Well, I learned that lesson in my fourth-year investigative reporting class after I was told to interview Liberal Senator Colin Kenny for a book being written by one of my instructors, John Sawatsky. I was nervous and Kenny was impatient and gave short, unhelpful answers. Although it was bitterly cold outside, he opened his window and seemed to lean into the howling winter wind. My tape recorder barely picked up his answers. Back on campus, I told Sawatsky and Professor Joe Scanlon, ...